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Protest By Obstruction

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Protesting something by attaching yourself to it

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Evalana on Jun 19th 2011 at 8:24:54 PM
Last Edited By:
pyroclastic on Aug 28th 2017 at 2:02:14 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/helen_fox_railings.jpg

Protesting the destruction of something, usually a tree or building, by chaining yourself to that thing or otherwise physically blocking it off. Political protesters will often instead lock themselves to an important government building. Very much Truth in Television, going back to the suffragettes of the early 20th century.

Doing this heroically marks you as a Badass Pacifist. A less sympathetic character may be a Soapbox Sadie, a New-Age Retro Hippie, or various other flavors of Strawman Political.

Compare Go Through Me.

Categories: Civil Unrest Tropes, Rebel Tropes, The Only Righteous Index of Fanatics (maybe?)


Examples

Film

  • In Ali G Indahouse, Ali G goes on a hunger strike and chains himself to the railings outside No. 10 Downing Street when he learns his local council leisure centre is going to be demolished.
  • The Great Race: Maggie Dubois chains herself to a men's bathroom door in the New York Sentinel newspaper building to protest the paper's policy of not hiring women. She tries to force the editor to hire her as the first female reporter for the paper.
  • Man-Thing has some environmentalists chaining themselves on Schist Company's vehicles.
  • Mary Poppins: Winfred Banks is a suffragette who discusses Emmeline Pankhurst chaining herself to the gates of Parliament.
  • In the Chick Flick Two Weeks Notice with Sandra Bullock, she and some fellow advocates lay down in front of a building to avert its destruction.

Literature

  • In the Lucy Valentine novels, Lucy mentions that her grandmother, Dovie, is an activist who chained herself to things in her youth.
  • The novel The Divide, by Nicholas Evans, has a scene with environmental activists protesting logging this way.
  • There's a reference in The Serpent's Shadow to suffragettes chaining themselves to 10 Downing Street as per the Real Life example.

Live Action TV

  • In 3rd Rock from the Sun, Harry accidentally chains himself to a tree without knowing they were going to cut it down.
  • In The Americans, Badass Preacher Pastor Tim chains himself to the gates of an army base to protest nuclear proliferation.
  • Andromeda. A group of environmental activists chained themselves to a terraformer and ended up dying horribly.
  • Ted and Dougal chained themselves to the railing in front of a cinema in Father Ted. Backfired spectacularly as their protest against The Passion of St. Tibulus made the film a huge success.
  • In one episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche handcuffs herself to her childhood home, unable to bear letting construction workers tear it down.
  • In Monk, the titular character chains himself to a pillar in the garage where his wife was murdered, to protest the garage's impending demolition.
  • Naturally, Sadie: In "Forest for the Trees", Sadie is upset when her favourite tree is going to be cut down. She is up the tree spying on her crush Owen Anthony when Owen spots her. Owen thinks she is occupying the tree as a protest to prevent it being cut down. Rather than reveal the actual reason she was in the tree, Sadie starts stays in the tree as an actual protest.
  • Psych: In one case, an animal rights protestor was a suspect in a murder case, but because she had chained herself in front of a restaurant in protest of their menu, she had an obvious alibi.
  • In an episode of Saved by the Bell, Jessie and Kelly protest oil drilling on campus by chaining themselves to an imitation oil drill in the main hallway. Then a nerd joins them on the drill — officially to join the protest, but really because he's a Stalker With a Crush.
  • In the first episode of Slings and Arrows, Geoffrey Tennant chains himself to his bankrupt Theatre Sans Argent. Oliver sees his protest on the news and calls him, setting in motion the events of the show. Namely, Oliver's death and Geoffrey's visit to the funeral home, which leads to him speaking at the funeral, which leads to his being hired as Interim Artistic Director and three seasons of great television.
  • In an episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Cody ties himself to protect a tree in the park.
  • In one episode of The Thin Blue Line, the officers go to break up a group protesting the building of a bypass. Officer Goody encounters one protester who has tied herself to a tree, and ends up joining her.
  • In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Cloud Cuckoolander Lillian locks herself to a piece of earthmoving equipment to protest new construction in the neighborhood. Unfortunately for her, the construction site is abandoned, and she stays there for several days without being noticed.
  • In The Vicar of Dibley's episode "Summer", Geraldine protests an attempt by the water company to turn Dibley's valley into a reservoir by chaining herself to her church. Once the media picks up on it, the main cast (except for Owen, who has a different plan) join her. Including Alice and Hugo's baby daughter, who is put in a bouncy chair chained to the church.

Web Comic

Western Animation

  • In the Dan Vs. episode "Burgerphile", Dan shackles himself to the front registers of the eponymous fast food restaurant when the manager refuses to correct his order.
  • The Loud House: When Luan becomes an activist, she chains herself to a tree to save it from getting chopped down.
  • The Simpsons:
    • One time Homer and some others chained themselves to trees to protest them being cut down. Cops chased Homer around his tree, causing his chain to cut the tree down.
    • Another time Homer chained himself to a pole outside the Springfield Isotopes baseball stadium as part of his hunger strike to protest their move to Albuquerque NM.
    • In "The Girl Who Slept Too Little", the Simpsons protest the proposed construction of a stamp museum next door to the Simpson house. In one scene, Bart chains himself to a giant drill, but the worker drills down anyway with him on it; Bart enjoys the experience a couple of times before he tires of it.
    • In a flashback from "Mona Leaves-a", Homer's mother says that she's going to chain herself to a nuclear submarine.
  • This is how Pocahontas protects John Smith from execution, both in Real Life and the Disney film.

Video Games

  • Discworld II parodies this. There's a woman titled "Suffrajester" who keeps tying herself to poles and protesting that women should be allowed to become jesters. She's a bit confused about the concept though, since she tends to tie herself up in places where there's no one to hear her protesting, like at a graveyard. Rincewind will lampshade this if you speak to her, to which she replies that there aren't any convenient poles to tie herself to near the Jesters' Guild.

Real Life

  • British suffragettes chained themselves to railings during The Edwardian Era.
  • Lt. Dan Choi and several others attached themselves to a White House fence in 2010.

Feedback: 48 replies

Jun 19th 2011 at 8:29:47 PM

Literature

  • Lucy Valentine mentions her grandmother, Dovie, is an activist who chained herself to things in her youth.

Jun 19th 2011 at 10:32:33 PM

Definitely Truth In Television: British suffragettes chained themselves to railings a century ago. Lt. Dan Choi and several others attached themselves to a White House fence in 2010.

Jun 19th 2011 at 11:38:31 PM

  • One time on The Simpsons Homer and some others chained themselves to trees to protest them being cut down. Cops chased Homer around his tree, causing his chain to cut the tree down.
    • Another time Homer chained himself to a poll outside the Springfied Isotopes (Baseball) stadium as part of his Hunger Strike to protest their move to Albuquerque NM.

Jun 20th 2011 at 4:35:05 AM

Ted and Dougal chained themselves to the railing in front of a cinema in Father Ted. Backfired spectacularly as their protest against The Passion of St. Tibulus made the film a huge success.

Jun 20th 2011 at 10:59:11 AM

  • Psych: In one case, an animal rights protestor was a suspect in a murder case, but because she had chained herself in front of a restaurant in protest of their menu, she had an obvious alibi.

Jun 20th 2011 at 11:15:01 AM

I think this happened on an episode of Andromeda. A group of environmental activists chained themselves to a terraformer and ended up dying horribly.

Jun 20th 2011 at 2:40:37 PM

I think this should be broadened to include all types of "occupation." See Arrested Development, in which a character climbs a tree and lives in it to protest cutting it down; or Real Life example of the February Sisters, who locked themselves in a university building at the University of Kansas to demand better conditions for women on campus (eliminating pay differences, adding childcare, adding women's studies department). Clearly the same idea, but nobody was technically chained to anything.

Jun 20th 2011 at 2:41:23 PM

^Also, in the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, when Arthur lays down in front of the bulldozer. No chains, but similar thinking. Protest by obstruction/occupation.

Jun 20th 2011 at 4:16:53 PM

From the End of I Heart Huckabies:

"What are you doing tomorrow? about 2 0'clock?"

"I don't know - you?"

"I'm going to chain myself to a bull-doser."

Jun 20th 2011 at 6:30:00 PM

In the first episode of Slings and Arrows, Geoffrey Tennant chains himself to his bankrupt Theatre Sans Argent. Oliver sees his protest on the news and calls him, setting in motion the events of the show. Namely, Oliver's death and Geoffrey's visit to the funeral home, which leads to him speaking at the funeral, which leads to his being hired as Interim Artistic Director and three seasons of great television.

Jun 21st 2011 at 2:50:48 PM


The above (which I recommend for a page image) is from an episode of The Simpsons called Homer To The Max. Basically, Homer chains himself to a tree, and then runs in circles when police officers try to mace him.

Jun 21st 2011 at 3:37:42 PM

The phrase "tree hugger" got its name from this trope's use by environmental protestors.

Jun 21st 2011 at 4:06:02 PM

^^Please just link to the image. It's breaking the page.

Jun 21st 2011 at 7:15:09 PM

The novel The Divide, by Nicholas Evans, has a scene with environmental activists protesting logging this way.

Jun 26th 2011 at 3:49:01 PM

I'm all for expanding this to include other types of obstructive protesting, but can anyone think of some titles?

Jun 26th 2011 at 4:46:03 PM

In [[3rd Rock From The Sun]], Harry accidentally chains himself to a tree without knowing they were going to cut it down.

Jun 27th 2011 at 3:25:10 AM

Film

  • The Great Race. Maggie Dubois chains herself to a men's bathroom door in the New York Sentinel newspaper building to protest the paper's policy of not hiring women. She tries to force the editor to hire her as the first female reporter for the paper.

Jun 29th 2011 at 1:08:04 AM

^^This was done to point up the link with the suffragettes (economic rights as well as political ones), and Played For Laughs. The editor's wife not only takes his job and his office, she takes up smoking his cigars.

BTW, it's also referenced in the film version of Mary Poppins. It seems an alternative reason to protest in this way is to draw attention categories of people usually ignored or taken for granted by people in power.

Jun 29th 2011 at 3:39:00 PM

Film

  • In that Chick Flick Two Weeks Notice with Sandra Bullock. She and some fellow advocates lay down in front of a building to avert its destruction.

Jun 29th 2011 at 4:23:09 PM

  • In one episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche handcuffs herself to her childhood home, unable to bear letting construction workers tear it down.

Jun 29th 2011 at 4:29:14 PM

The bonds depicted may or may not be actual chains (they probably weren't meant to be so detailed as to distract from the dialogue, or put undue strain on the illustrator), but this SMBC strip captures the concept. It proves unsuccessful.

Jul 3rd 2011 at 11:06:33 AM

... what's wrong with my Simpsons image?

Jul 5th 2011 at 12:05:34 PM

In Monk, the titular character chains himself to a pillar in the garage where his wife was murdered, to protest the garage's impending demolition.

Oct 20th 2011 at 5:07:22 AM

I don't remember enough to be certain, but didn't an episode of Hey Arnold! use this technique involving "the tree?" Come to think of it, I believe The Movie involved a faceoff between the bulldozers and the neighbourhood...

I'd need someone else to verify, though.

Oct 20th 2011 at 5:18:33 AM

  • Man-Thing has some environmentalists chaining themselves on Schist Company's vehicles.

Oct 20th 2011 at 6:10:39 AM

I hope someone takes this up; I think it's a good trope.

Oct 20th 2011 at 8:36:51 AM

Another variant is people climbing a tree and refusing to climb down in order to stop it from being cut down

  • In one Simpsons episode Lisa tries to save a tree from being cut down by refusing to climb down

Another classic is people laying down in front of a bulldozer. Often subverted when the construction guys just go around them.

Sit-ins was a standard Civil Rights Movement protest tactic

Oct 21st 2011 at 8:32:15 AM

On launch, this should go on the new Civil Unrest Tropes Index.

Oct 22nd 2011 at 8:38:35 AM

There's a reference in The Serpent's Shadow to suffragettes chaining themselves to 10 Downing Street as per the Real Life example.

Oct 22nd 2011 at 1:32:56 PM

I think there should probably be different categories between protesting by taking an obstructing position, as Arthur Dent did in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and protesting by actually chaining oneself to an object.

Another idea I have would be perhaps a kind of Handcuff Tropes page, specifically involving the use of handcuffs, one trope would be to use handcuffs to try to make a point, like Maggie Dubbois did in The Great Race, but would also include handcuffing oneself to another person, which I have seen done in "Hi Honey I'm Home" where the wife handcuffed herself to her husband to make the point that she needs more freedom to make her own decisions.

Since the title of this trope is Protest by Obstruction, I'll make a vote for this trope as including non-bondage related sit in's, lie downs, etc.

Nov 12th 2012 at 11:00:56 AM

Nov 12th 2012 at 11:35:08 AM

In an episode of Saved By The Bell, Jessie and Kelly protest oil drilling on campus by chaining themselves to an imitation oil drill in the main hallway. Then a nerd joins them on the drill -- officially to join the protest, but really because he's a Stalker With A Crush.

Nov 12th 2012 at 11:39:55 AM

Live Action TV

  • In The Vicar Of Dibley's episode "Summer", Geraldine protests an attempt by the water company to turn Dibley's valley into a reservoir by chaining herself to her church. Once the media picks up on it, the main cast (except for Owen, who has a different plan) join her. Including Alice and Hugo's baby daughter, who is put in a bouncy chair chained to the church.

Mar 6th 2016 at 6:35:29 PM

Does it have to be chaining oneself to something? "Obstruction" to me sounds more like ppl making a barricade behind the thing in question, in a form of protest in this case.

Real life examples or not?

Mar 6th 2016 at 11:23:06 PM

In Ali G Indahouse, Ali G goes on a hunger strike and chains himself to the railings outside No. 10 Downing Street when he learns his local council leisure centre is going to be demolished.

Mar 7th 2016 at 12:08:42 AM

Mar 7th 2016 at 12:18:18 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Added media section titles.
    • Namespaced work names.
    • Alphabetized media sections.

Mar 7th 2016 at 4:15:05 AM

Naturally Sadie: In "Forest for the Trees", Sadie is upset when her favourite tree is going to be cut down. She is up the tree spying on her crush Owen Anthony when Owen spots her. Owen thinks she is occupying the tree as a protest to prevent it being cut down. Rather than reveal the actual reason she was in the tree, Sadie starts stays in the tree as an actual protest.

Aug 21st 2016 at 10:48:42 PM

The Loud House: When Luan becomes an activist, she chains herself to a tree to save it ffrom getting chopped down.

Aug 21st 2016 at 10:58:23 PM

TV:

Aug 22nd 2016 at 7:29:35 AM

Plz answer my question

Aug 22nd 2016 at 9:58:45 AM

So the OP hasn't posted in five years. Someone want to take this one over?

Jul 20th 2017 at 8:32:21 PM

Videogames

  • Discworld II parodies this. There's a woman titled "Suffrajester" who keeps tying herself to poles and protesting that women should be allowed to become jesters. She's a bit confused about the concept though, since she tends to tie herself up in places where there's no one to hear her protesting, like at a graveyard. Rincewind will lampshade this if you speak to her, to which she replies that there aren't any convenient poles to tie herself to near the Jesters' Guild.

Jul 20th 2017 at 9:46:31 PM

  • More Simpsons examples:
    • In "The Girl Who Slept Too Little", the Simpsons protest the proposed construction of a stamp museum next door to the Simpson house. In one scene, Bart chains himself to a giant drill, but the worker drills down anyway with him on it; Bart enjoys the experience a couple of times before he tires of it.
    • In a flashback from "Mona Leaves-a", Homer's mother says that she's going to chain herself to a nuclear submarine.

Jul 22nd 2017 at 12:02:44 PM

On suffragettes: By 2020, "a century ago" would be 1920. Name it The Edwardian Era instead.

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